Description: Located on the Serchio River about fifteen miles from the sea, Lucca was originally a Ligurian settlement that evolved into an important Roman colony by 180 C. E. During the early Middle Ages it was one of the most important cities of the Lombards, and by 1100 it was one of the two most economically developed cities of Tuscany (the other one being Pisa). Much of its good fortune derives from the fact that it was located on the important road linking Rome and northern Europe, the Via Francigena. In the middle of the thirteenth century Lucca aligned itself with Florence and the Guelf cause. However, in the first half of the fourteenth century, the commune fell under the signorial control (signoria) of several Ghibelline despots, the most important of whom was Castruccio Castracane (1320-1328). He defeated the Florentines at Altopascio in 1325. Lucca retained its republican institutions until the nineteenth century.